But his Achilles heel has been the longball, as he gave up a combined 58 homers in his first two seasons in the nation's capital.
Scherzer (4-2) gave up a solo home run to Jake Lamb on Thursday afternoon but little else, as the first-place Washington Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 to take two of three games in the series. He has allowed five homers this year after giving up 31 last season.
"You are not going to beat yourself up over a solo homer," said Scherzer, a former first-round draft pick of Arizona. "If you get beat by a solo home run so what. Bring 'em on."
Scherzer gave up just two hits and fanned 11 in seven innings and now has a 2.66 ERA. At the plate he had two hits, including an RBI infield single with the bases loaded in the second to make it 1-0.
"He had a good outing," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "He shut down a very good offensive team. We felt we needed to put pressure on him. It didn't work out."
The Nationals got a scare when right fielder Bryce Harper left the game in the seventh inning after he dove to make catch in the third. His departure with a slight left groin injury seemed precautionary, as the medical staff of the Nationals appears to be proactive.
"Get out of there and get some treatment," said Harper, looking ahead to a series that begins Friday in Philadelphia.
Matt Albers pitched a perfect eighth and Enny Romero got the last three outs in the ninth for the save, his first of the year and second of his career.
Washington took two of three in the series from Arizona, which begins a series Friday in Denver against the Rockies.
The loss ruined the first big-league start of the season for pitcher Braden Shipley, who made his major-league league debut last year with the D-backs.
"I had six walks. For the most part I was throwing the ball where I wanted to," said Shipley, who didn't want to talk about the umpire's strike zone. "My stuff felt awesome today, super electric, from the pen until when I finished. I really didn't pitch the way I tend to pitch, which is get early contact."
Scherzer reached on an infield single to third with the bases loaded and two outs in the second, and his RBI gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Shipley tried to make a bare hand play but was not able to make a throw to first.
"He kind of got the bat on it and hit it in the perfect spot. That was frustrating," Shipley said.
The Nationals loaded the bases again in the third on three straight walks allowed by Shipley (0-1). Anthony Rendon then lined a two-run single to give Washington a 3-0 lead. Michael A. Taylor followed with a walk and Jose Lobaton grounded into a double play to end the threat.
Lamb broke up the shutout with a solo homer in the seventh to make it 3-1. It was the seventh homer of the year for Lamb. Chris Heisey had an RBI groundout in the eighth to make it 4-1, and Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona hit a solo homer in the ninth off Joe Blanton to trim the margin to 4-2.
Scherzer is now 5-0 in his career against the Diamondbacks.
Shipley went four innings plus one batter in the fifth. He was replaced by Randall Delgado after giving up five hits, three runs and six walks with two strikeouts.
Lovullo did not commit to keeping Shipley in the rotation.
"The one thing I wanted to say is he came off the mound and battled the entire outing," Lovullo said. "He didn't give in. He did what he could. He is a guy that spots his fastball and gets ahead."
Ryan Zimmerman singled in the fifth to chase Shipley and up his hitting streak to 11 games. Taylor was 2-for-2 with two walks and two steals and is now 9-for-19 in his last five games. Trea Turner also had two hits for Washington.
"We came in here and we played some tough baseball," Lovullo said. "Even though we lost two out of three, I think we earned a little bit of respect."
NOTES: Arizona OF Jeremy Hazelbaker was sent to Triple-A Reno to make room for RHP Braden Shipley, who made his first major-league start of the year Thursday. Hazelbaker hit his first homer of the year Tuesday in Washington and had four pinch-hit homers last year for the St. Louis Cardinals. ... Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-1, 3.09 ERA) will face former Nationals minor leaguer Nick Pivetta (0-1, 3.60 ERA) of host Philadelphia on Friday. ... Arizona RHP Zack Greinke (2-2, 3.19 ERA) will oppose Colorado RHP German Marquez (0-1, 7.20 ERA) on Friday in Denver.